Ultimately, I think a strong predictor of the success of friendships between gay and straight men hinges on how advanced an insight both men have into their own personal masculinity and what it means, combined with a self awareness and willingness to challenge traditional, negative elements of masculinity.
Allan Rae (alto)
alto, once again you’ve taken a complex topic and broken it down into manageable components. I have a couple of thoughts to add here based my own experience as a forty-eight-inch tall, black, Christian, gay man. Think that’s a mouthful? Try living it — ha! And I mention those facets of myself on occasion as I think they give me a somewhat different vista on the subject of straight-gay male friendships … well, on everything actually.
Here’s something to chew on: I typically am attracted to the traditional male type, the average Joe, but that doesn’t mean I devalue men most would dub effeminate. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing men who fall all along the “masculinity” spectrum and I appreciate and value them all … not because of the where they fall in that scale, but because of their character and heart. Note that I’m not “blind” to an abundance of butch or fem traits in men, and neither is afforded more or less value.
I’ve worked a lot in the entertainment industry, and I will admit that my first encounters with men who could “tip” around the dressing room better than beauty pageant contestants on the runway left me perplexed. But in getting to know guys some would refer to as “queens” on a personal level and the level of skill in their chosen field (in this instance dance/theater) is similar to that of an NBA Star. And I’ve found their character on the same level as an Army Ranger. The butch versus fem thing is all superficial. When you get down to it, it’s all about WHO A PERSON IS in my book. It’s unfortunate when people can’t get past that. They miss out on so much in learning about and from others. This also opens the door to learning more about themselves.
As far as straight-gay male friendships, my experience I think is a bit of an anomaly. There’s a few assumptions I make about myself and others, for better or worse, from the jump —
- When I walk into a room the first thing people notice is not my race, gender, faith, or sexuality — it’s my height. It supersedes all else. So for most people who meet me for the first time, they’re trying to process my height and the words that are coming out of my mouth through whatever filters they’ve got.
- If there’s one person in the room who knows me and they know another person in said room, I just automatically assume that the other person(s) knows I’m gay. Always. It’s easier for all concerned to assume that everyone knows. How can they not know? If I was 5’8” and always running around in the same color-coordinated “outfits” (note, I did not say “matchy-matchy”) with a Bichon Frise on a leash, people would scream “queen” with the requisite number of exclamation points. Alas, they don’t … at least not within earshot.
- I accept myself, so I’m free to be me, totally unencumbered with worries of trying to be a certain way or working to meet people’s expectations. In doing so, I’ve found it free others to be themselves.
I’ve had no problem making friend male friends. I’m simply myself. Having worked through some issues of my own, it’s a lot easier to be authentic. People seem to enjoy that. I have to agree with you again in that it’s not about the comparative amount of testosterone coursing through one’s veins, but about who you are as an individual and what you bring to the relation as well as what you don’t bring.
Obviously, I could go on and on about this subject.